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Why Josh Norman still has a lot to prove at the Washington Redskins

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As expected, Josh Norman did not last long on the open market, signing a five-year $75 million dollar deal with the Washington Redskins on Friday.

It has been widely reported that the star cornerback saw his franchise tag rescinded by the Carolina Panthers due to the struggles to agree terms with the player on a long-term deal.  Put simply, he was looking for "quarterback level" pay, and Carolina were not going to pay it.  

There's no denying that the level of Norman's play last season was up there among the best defensive players in the entire league, but the salary demands from a 28-year-old with only one season of truly elite production thus far was seemingly too much.


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The Redskins wasted no time in securing the services of the four-year pro, penning him  to a five-year deal which now makes him the highest paid CB in the league.  But what exactly are they getting for their money?

Based on pure production Josh Norman was one of, if not the best corner in the league last season, allowing a passer rating of just 54.0 to opposing quarterbacks on throws targeted against him, but there are still concerns about his abilities as a true man to man cover corner.


Playing in a system in Carolina predominantly based on zone coverage, Norman did not find himself in one on one situations against opposition receivers the same way that many of the current top level players at the position do.

The phrase "shutdown corner" is often referred to as a true measure of talent at the position, but this tends to be a label given to man coverage corners who are usually deployed to mark the opposing team's best receiving threat and follow them all game long.  

Names like Darelle Revis, Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson are often seen as the class of the position, and each of these players has proven ability at man to man coverage; something he has yet to show he can do consistently.

The Panthers defensive unit itself is also largely based on a strong front, and perhaps the best pairing of linebackers throughout the league in Luke Kuechly & Thomas Davis.  The ability to put pressure on the quarterbacks ultimately leads to forcing mistakes. It is here where their defence is it's most valuable, and not necessarily in the secondary.

It's without question that the Redskins have secured a top talent, and their secondary gets an immediate upgrade going into next season, but Norman still hasn't quite proved that he's worth the salary he has just commanded.

The good news for both team and player is that similarly to the Panthers, Washington tend to play many of their defensive snaps out of zone coverage schemes, which means that Norman is unlikely to be thrown into one on one coverage more often than he's currently used to.

A move to the NFC East outfit will, however, see regular match-ups against the likes of Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Junior, so we won't have to wait long to see whether he can prove himself as an elite player worth the money that he's been signed to, or an overpaid mistake who's success was down to being a product of a successful defensive system in Carolina.

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Carolina Panthers
Washington Redskins

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